Last week I learned a little bit more about Myrtle, our mysterious namesake. Previously, the only information I had on her was what was contained in her obituary, and some tidbits from US Censuses.
Among other things, I learned that Myrtle moved to Seattle in 1916 with her second husband, Donald Geddes. They opened Ye College Playhouse, located in the University District on 14th Ave, which would later be renamed University Way.
In 1921, Donald & Myrtle incorporated G & G Theatre Co., which owned five theaters and had plans for an additional four theaters. Their intent was to specialize in smaller neighborhood theaters. The registered address for G&G Theatre Co. was 4322 University Way. Curiously, the current Varsity Theater is located next to this address at 4329 University Way. I wonder if there is a connection here, or if the addresses are coincidental.
In the mid twenties, Myrtle and Donald divorced, and Myrtle soon married Frank Buckmiller. Frank was not in the theater business, he was a salesman for Wallin & Nordstrom. They moved to Baker City in 1928 to start a theater company of their own. Once here, they incorporated the Baker Theatres Co. and purchased The Clarick, The Empire and The Orpheum.
In November, 1937 the Clarick burned down and the Buckmillers immediately began working on plans for a new theater, which would be the Eltrym. In the meantime, Myrtle opened The Polka Dot Confectionery (The Polka Dot Cafe) in the building right next to the Orpheum, where the Chamealeon is today. She opened this business in the year before her death, as they were working out the plans for the new theater on 1st Street.
Myrtle was a busy woman. She was a wife, a mother, a musician and an owner of multiple businesses. In the early 1900's and through the 30's, when Myrtle was conducting business, businesswomen weren't as common as we are today. I admire Myrtle, and I wish I could know more about her. So if you, or anyone you know (like your elderly family members) know anything about Myrtle Buckmiller or her family (her kids Ardys Ferguson, Freeman Geddes and stepson Charles (Chris) Buckmiller) please contact me.
As a side note: After Myrtle & Donald divorced, Donald continued to work in the theater business. He managed the Winter Garden Theatre for a time, and appears to have spent his later years managing the gigantic, grandiose and magnificent Orpheum Theatre, which was demolished in 1967 to make way for a Westin Hotel.